Remembering Zillur Rahman Siddiqui on 92nd birth anniversary
Professor Zillur Rahman Siddiqui was an eminent writer, academic and educationist. He was born at Durgapur in Jhenaidah in 1928. Siddiqui attended Bankura and Jalpaiguri Zilla Schools and matriculated from Jessore Zilla School in 1945 with distinction. Afterwards, he studied at Presidency College in Kolkata. He took his BA in 1950 and MA in 1951 in English Literature with First Class in both from University of Dhaka. He studied English Literature at Worcester College of Oxford University during 1952-54. Coming back to erstwhile East Pakistan, he joined Dhaka College. Later, he joined the Department of English of Rajshahi University where he structured and established a full-fledged English Department. Subsequently, he joined Jahangirnagar University as Professor of English and organised the Department of English, designing a state of the art syllabus and appointing some eminent professors. He served there till 1996. He became the vice chancellor of the University in 1976, and served ably for two consecutive terms (8 years) there.
Professor Zillur Rahman Siddiqui served as an Advisor to the caretaker government under justice Shahabuddin Ahmed in 1990-91, being in charge of Ministry of Education. Professor Siddiqui was also named as chief of the implementation committee formed for the present Khulna University. As a prominent writer he wrote about 40 books both in Bengali and English. He is the editor of many books, one of which is Bangla Academy English -Bangla Dictionary. He also edited Purbamegha, a quarterly journal, and monthly Dipankar. Besides writing and editing books, he wrote columns in several national dailies of the country. His column, 'Myself and Others' in the now defunct Bangladesh Times was a much read one. He travelled in Asia, Europe and North America on academic, literary and cultural missions.
Professor Siddiqui was rarely seen to be boastful about himself or his deeds. His almost sub-consciously maintained a gracious and elegant presence everywhere he went.
He was well versed in the subject he taught and was always prepared. The way he taught in his classes, his analyses of literature, and the ethics he maintained while teaching were simply inspirational. The punctuality and the regularity that he maintained in teaching classes were rare. He was never late for class; neither did he miss any class.
He attended many seminars, conferences as chief guest. The manner in which he delivered his lectures and speeches, and his communication with people was noted to be very attractive.
His way of speaking English with immaculate British accent was admiringly inspiring and something to emulate. And when he used Bangla in his speech, he used only Bangla, and when he used English, he used only English, and while lecturing in the class he did not utter a single word in Bangla. He did not mix languages even in his day-to-day conversation.
He has been honored with Alaol Shahitya Purashkar in 1977, Bangla Academy Award in 1979, Kazi Mahbub Ullah and Begum Zebunnisa Trust Shammanana in 1990, Alokto Shahitya Purashkar in 1998 and Swadhinata Purashkar in 2010. This revered educationist died on November 11, 2014.
February 23 marked the 92nd birth anniversary of Zillur Rahman Siddiqui.
The writer is a freelance contributor.